Prince William County grants $50,000 to Caerus Discovery, LLC, to Boost Zika Virus Research

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Provided by Prince William Department of Economic Development

The Prince William Board of County Supervisors announced today that it has authorized a $50,000 public-private performance agreement with Caerus Discovery, LLC, to work with George Mason University, the largest public research university in the Commonwealth of Virginia, to discover an antibody for the Zika virus.

Caerus Discovery, LLC, a biotechnology company newly located at the Prince William Science Accelerator, will use its proprietary elements to identify and develop a new antibody to fight the Zika virus. The work will be performed at the George Mason University Biomedical Research Laboratory (BRL), located on George Mason University’s (Mason’s) Science & Technology Campus, Innovation Park, Prince William County, Va. The data generated from this work will also be used by Caerus Discovery, LLC to seek continued funding from the National Institute of Health (NIH), the Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund (CRCF), angel, venture or other private investors, to further advance this important research.

“We are thrilled to participate in this important public-private partnership, with thanks to the innovative leadership and support of Prince William County,” said Cohava Gelber, PhD, MBA, Co-Founder, Caerus Discovery, LLC. “The opportunity to tap into the leading brain-power at Mason, state-of-the-art facilities at the BRL and the entrepreneurial environment here in Prince William County, solidifies our decision to locate to the nearby Prince William Science Accelerator.”

“Prince William County recognizes the importance of creating an ideal business community environment; one that promotes synergy and collaboration for entrepreneurs and startups to truly succeed,” said Corey A. Stewart, Chairman, Prince William Board of County Supervisors. “The Prince William Science Accelerator is focused on delivering world-class researchers, businesses and workforce into the community.”

The Prince William Board of County Supervisors authorized an agreement between Caerus Discovery, LLC and the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) of Prince William County and assigned a $50,000 grant from the Prince William County Economic Development Opportunity Fund (EDOF). The grant will assist the company in the purchase of materials, contractual services, labor costs and licensing fees used in the discovery of a new antibody for the Zika virus. In turn, Caerus Discovery, LLC will invest $200,000 through in-kind services and labor.

“Mason’s BRL was created as a unique facility for advanced research of infectious diseases, under the leadership and vision of Dr. Charles Bailey, a world-renowned infectious disease expert. The new joint collaboration with Caerus Discovery, a leader in monoclonal antibody development, opens the door to addressing unmet needs in the field of emerging infections,” said Dr. Aarthi Narayanan, Assistant Professor, National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases, George Mason University. “We are delighted to work together towards developing an effective new therapeutic strategy for treating Zika virus infections.”

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Zika virus and associated consequences remain a significant public health challenge requiring intense action, but they no longer represent a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. However, WHO reports the global risk assessment of the Zika virus has not changed and continues to spread geographically to areas where mosquitoes are present that can transmit the virus.

Further, the rise in the spread of the Zika virus in Brazil has been accompanied by an unprecedented rise in the number of children being born with unusually small heads – identified as microcephaly. In addition, several countries, including Brazil, report a steep increase in Guillain-Barré Syndrome – a neurological disorder that could lead to paralysis and death. Links to other neurological complications are also being investigated.


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